CD10 Core: Skills

Skills are a numeric representation of how adept your character is at a particular activity. Most skills have direct connection to established mechanics, but all skills are meant to also be used as narrative, immersive and flavor skills to spice up the story. A Keeper can call for a skill check for any skill, provided it fits the current situation and narrative, even if said skill has no direct connection to the task a player is trying to perform. Skills are one of three parts that make up the numerical values of a character. A skill holds all your characters ability, knowledge and general performance within the skills' area. Skills are always divided into six groups, dependent on setting.

For instance, here are groups for a modern cyberpunk setting and a medieval fantasy setting side-by-side:

Communication (Co)
Firearms (F)
Knowledge (K)
Maneuvers (M)
Technology (T)
Willpower (W)
Communication (Co)
Crafts (Cr)
Knowledge (K)
Maneuvers (M)
Occultism (O)
Willpower (W)

Communication skills are skills that involve communicating with others in one way or another. It could involve holding speeches or trying to win over a crowd at a rally. Firearms cover all manner of ranged weapons from handguns to plasma cannons. Knowledge skills are skills that require study and academia. Skills in this group are usually such that most ordinary folks don't have much competency in them. Maneuvers are great physical feats such as running, swimming and most melee fighting skills. Technology cover high tech skills such as advanced computer operation, hacking, tracing and cybernetics. Willpower cover skills that require great mental stamina or patience to perform. Crafts hold all the skills that involve creating and manipulating matter to make things. It could be something like blacksmithing or carpentry. Occultism covers everything supernatural, even the more divine parts of the supernatural.


Each setting has its own set of skill groups and they have a small impact on gameplay, mostly in the form of traits having relations to specific skill groups.

One such example is the trait Quick Study which allows a player to pick a category of skills that they have an easier time learning.

Creating new skills

Should you find that you have an idea for a skill but can't find one in the list that covers your use case, you can always just add it to the game. Most of the things should already be covered by this article, but in case you find something that needs to be added, take great care to outline the skill so that it isn't too narrow or too broad. Creating new skills and traits is one of the strengths of CD10, and while the modules provide many traits and skills for you to use, we can never create skills for every setting and world.

Skill substitution

In some cases a player may ask to use a skill outside of its "intended" purpose. If it makes sense for the narrative, the Keeper may use skill substitution to allow a player to use a skill in a non-conventional way. Usually this should be done through some form of penalty such as a higher DC than using a more appropriate skill, but if the player's reasoning for using said skill is sound and creative, there is no need to increase the DC. Instead reward the player's creativity by allowing them to use their skill in a new way.

Character Starting Skills

The Keeper sets a starter experience level for all the characters in the campaign, depending on what she needs. This "starter level" determines how many skills and traits your character can have and is a useful tool for the Keeper to tweak the style of campaign. The groups of Average, Skilled, Superb and Legend represent increasing amounts of experience at the start of the adventure. Each group gets a different amount of skills and traits.

In the top row, the column headers list each base experience level and each row below that determine your Traits Value and how many skills of each competency level you get. Skills are granted in four levels: 2 to 8. They represent your ability with a skill. A skill at 2 is a hobbyist skill, while a 6 skill is professional level skill.

Hobbyist Skills (2)
Competent Skills (4)
Professional Skills (6)
Master Skills (8)


Character experience is just a descriptor for indicating the average skill and experience of the character at character creation. We do not track "levels", like for instance DnD, and your character do not increase in distinct levels through gameplay. Once character creation is done, your starting experience is irrelevant and the level is not noted on the character sheet. Most characters, unless the Keeper decides otherwise, should use start at Skilled.

Improving with experience

In order for a character to improve, they must pay a certain amount of experience points depending on what they want to improve. There should always be an in-game narrative explanation for how your character acquired new skills or abilities. Everything is paid for with experience points including skills and traits. Experience points are rewarded to the player post-session as the Keeper sees fit. See the experience section of CD10 Core: Running a Game for details on awarding experience.

Experience cost

Players improve skills by paying experience points. Skills range between 1 to infinity, though skills beyond 10 are rare and largely overkill. In order to improve a skill, you must pay an equal number of experience points to the level of proficiency you are improving to. For example, if you have 3 in a skill and you want to improve it to 4, you must pay 4 experience points. If you want to increase it further to 5, you pay an additional 5.

Once you have mastered a skill (reached 8 in skill), the cost of improving increases significantly by double the cost. So increasing from 8 to 9 is not 9 experience points, but 18 points. Skills are capped at 12. That is a skill level that is almost beyond the capabilities of anyone ever known in history.

Skill level Cost per step Total cost
1 1 1
2 (Hobbyist) 2 3
3 3 6
4 (Competent) 4 10
5 5 15
6 (Professional) 6 21
7 7 28
8 (Master) 8 36
9 18 54
10 20 74
11 22 96
12 24 120

The system of learning new skills is heavily tied to narrative and story, so while the rules give you some good guidelines for how to treat skills, there are several story-related situations where this might not fit well and the Keeper must make changes to how skills and abilities are acquired and improved.

Improving known skills

For skills that the character already knows there is a limit of one skill improvement per skill and session. In order for the skill to be eligable for improvement, the skills must have been used in the session and that skill check must have failed. Whenever you fail a check, put a checkmark (✔) next to that skill so that you know you may increase it at the end of the session. If you have not failed a check you cannot increase the skill, representing that you have not learned from your mistakes.

For example, If you have 4 in Computers you may increase it to 5 between sessions provided that it has a checkmark next to it. You improve it by paying 5 experience points. You may not improve this skill again until after next session at the earliest. You are free to improve any number of skills between sessions as long as you have a checkmark next to them. But remember that you may only improve a single skill one time until the next session.

The reason for this limit is to encourage learning new skills and avoid spending all of your points on one particular skill and end up with a character that isn't believable or flexible. The requirement that one must fail with the skill represents learning from one's mistakes and that it's hard to improve when one is already a master.

Learning new skills

Learning a new skill is slightly different than improving known skills. New skills can be picked up at any time between sessions, provided that there's a narrative reason for why your character now knows this skill. A new skill can be increased to a maximum of 2 when picked up and doing so costs 1+2 = 3 experience points. 1 point for 1, 2 points for 2. Once a new skill has been raised to 2 it becomes a known skill and cannot be improved further until after next session and follows the same requirements as known skills.

Hidden skill checks and experience

Sometimes the Keeper calls for a check with a hidden Difficulty and doesn't let the player know whether they failed or succeeded (for instance, perception or insight checks). In this case, the Keeper should note down if the player failed their check and tell them at the end of the session so they still can increase their skills. The other option is not using hidden checks, which could take away tension and immersion.


Hiring a teacher is an excellent way to make one's progression more effective. A teacher is someone who has at least two skills to 6 or better and is willing to take students. The advantage of having a teacher is that learning new skills reduce the cost for increasing the skills he's teaching by 1 (to a minimum of 1), for as long as your character has less skill value than the teacher. Once you reach the value of your teacher, they can teach you no more. A teacher also bypasses the need to have failed a check on the skill in the session. Simply having a teacher tutor you in that particular skill means that it may be increased even if it has not been used. The drawback of a teacher is that they cost money. Unless one can pay them directly one often needs to perform work to pay for the teacher. The Keeper is of course welcome to construct whatever in-universe narrative to make a teacher available and paid for.

In addition to reducing the cost of increasing the skills that the teacher can teach you, they also provide you with one additional experience point per month to spend on the skill they're tutoring you for, provided you spend the entire month studying under them. If you cannot actively study, only the cost reduction is available.

School and studying

An alternative to having a teacher is to study. You go to lectures and classes and spend most of your time studying. Education and schools may not be an option for your setting, but if they are, it's usually a cheaper option than a teacher.

Long time between sessions

Real time and narrative time aren't 1:1 and sometimes a lot of in-universe time can pass between sessions. In these cases, the Keeper may make different rulings on how much a skill may be improved between sessions, given the in-universe time that has passed.

Core Skills

The list below is not a complete list of all skills in CD10. You may create your own skill list to fit your setting, or peruse the public skill block list for CD10 here on Worldanvil. There are plenty of niche, specialist and flavor skills available for you to expand your character there. Core skills are skills that a character does not necessarily have to have learned in order to use. These skills can be performed with a Blank Check if you have no value in it.

All core skills

Core skills are skills that every character possess automatically. It does not need to be chosen, but you still need to put points into them if you want to be better than absolute average.

Combat skills only

Combat skills are skills used to operate weaponry in combat, skills with using such weaponry and accuracy for ranged weapons.

General Skills

Here follows a list of general skills in CD10. These skills are skill that may be useful in a campaign and can be picked up by any character at any point.

Teachable Skills

Teachable skills are skills you cannot perform a Blank Check on or learn on your own. In order to learn these skills, you must have a teacher help you get to at least 1 in the skill before you can use it.


Feats of strength and stamina that require good modulation of muscle strength and efficient use of body energy. This could involve things as lifting techniques, running methods to conserve energy or jumping very far. General knowledge of body mechanics and overall strength.   Sprinting for extended periods of time require a check against this skill every turn to avoid accruing exhaustion in the form of Shock. Each turn that you are actively running, you make a check. If that check fails, you accrue one point of Shock. If the result of the check is lower than the amount of Shock you have accrued, you are exhausted and can no longer run. You must stop and catch your breath.

The skill to fight bare-handed or with hand-held short weapons, such as knuckledusters and small knives. Brawl commonly includes most hand-to-hand fighting, tripping, grappling and wrestling in general. It can also be leveraged as a specialist, unarmed martial arts.

Trainable Actions

  • Defensive Movement (2)
  • Martial Artist (2)
  • Disengage (4)
  • Grappler (4)
  • Wrist-lock (6)
The ability to do detail work with your hands, sometimes without being seen. The dexterity skill can be used to handle delicate things, working with details or sleight-of-hand kinds of actions.
The ability to disguise oneself is perhaps tricky in a world where there are several different looking races. The disguise skill allows the user to take on the appearance and persona of another, but it must be someone from the same species as themselves unless the species are only superficially different.
First Aid
Requires teacher

First aid is a subset of medicinal skills meant to save lives. The primary function of first aid is to prevent fatal bleeding and critical issues that need to be dealt with immediately. It can be applying a tourniquet on a heavy bleed, set a broken bone right, restore a dislocated joint, dealing with severe inflammation etc. First aid can only be used directly after someone has been injured, not as an ongoing thing. If you need to treat someone who is injured and recovering, use Medicine instead.


A first aid check is required to save the life of an injured character if the CD10 Advanced: Bleeding module is in use. Even if bleeding is not a factor, first aid immediately recovers a person from Down and Out, clears all Shock and removes one day of healing of a Wound. If the skill is used as part of an in-combat Rally action, it only recovers Shock, but does not clear any bleeding or reduce the healing time. If the Rally check fails, the person recovers half their Shock instead.

A failed check will provide no healing, but will still reduce bleeding by half. This does nothing to stop bleeding from fatal wounds, but will reduce light and serious wound's bleeding significantly.


The ability to convince someone that your point may be better than their point. This skill is common among traders who barter for prices all the time. But it can also be just trying to persuade someone to tell you something that you must know, or persuading them to help you. This is the friendlier side of Interrogation.

Requires teacher

Language is a niched skill, which means that every language is its own skill. You don't write "Language" on your character sheet. You write the name of the language. A character always has their native language at 6 level plus any value in the trait Educated.

  2: You know some phrases and words, but need to supplement your speech with a lot of gesturing to get your point across.
4: You speak the language decently, but you have a strong accent. Grammar is lacking and you have trouble finding words, but you have no day to day problems getting your point across. Misunderstandings happen regularly.
6: You can speak the language fluently with only a hint of accent. If it's your native tongue, your manner of speaking is primitive and not very refined.
8+: You speak the language like a native. Your accent is barely noticeable unless someone makes a real effort to notice it. You can even imitate certain dialects.

The ability to survive in the wild is an important skill for anyone traveling outside of civilisation. This skill is a measure of how knowledgeable you are with where to find food and water in the wild, as well as how to build makeshift shelters.

Surviving in urban environments is quite different and requires another skill: Urban Survival.

Flavor skills

Beyond these there are also flavor skills. These skills aren't meant to be used to solve adventures or expect much use out of them in a campaign, but they provide a good opportunity for a character to pick up a hobby, provide roleplaying opportunity and further expand on your character's personality. Browse the library of skills here on Worldanvil to find them.

Cover image: CD10 Banner by Mizomei


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